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Toolbox turmoil: Working together

To help us to understand that we can achieve best when we work together (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out.)

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To help us to understand that we can achieve best when we work together (SEAL theme 2: Getting on and falling out.)

Preparation and materials

  • Obtain the following tools: saw, tape measure, plane, chisel, screwdriver, hammer.

  • Be prepared, if you feel it is necessary, to hold up each tool when it is mentioned in the story and demonstrate its use.
  • This assembly could be done as a drama, with a child to represent each tool in the box.


  1. Toolbox turmoil

    Narrator  There was trouble in the toolbox. Thrown together like individuals in Big Brother, they were getting on each other’s nerves, and the Saw was feeling rather superior.

    Saw  Surely I’m the most important tool of all. My sharp teeth can cut into the toughest wood and without my assistance the carpenter couldn’t cut wood to the correct length and then nothing would fit properly.

    Narrator  Then the Tape Measure piped up.

    Tape Measure  And how would the carpenter ensure the wood was cut to the correct length? By using me of course – the carpenter would use me first, to measure and mark out the wood before cutting it. I’m more important than you are.

    Narrator  It was the turn of the Plane.

    Plane  Without me the carpenter would still be left with wood that has rough untidy edges that would catch and cut the hands of whoever used it. My sharp blade takes off the rough edges and leaves a silky smooth surface that is a perfect finish. If you are looking for a quality finish, then it’s me you need. So don’t search any further for the most important tool.

    Narrator  The Chisel interrupted.

    Chisel  What about fine, intricate work? What good is a saw or plane when you’ve got to get into small places and cut out intricate shapes? When something special is needed, the carpenter would be lost without me. So don’t think you are more important than I am.

    Narrator  Just as the Screwdriver was about to speak the carpenter picked up the toolbox and threw it into the back of his van. So they all kept quiet, determined to continue the argument later.

    It wasn’t long before the carpenter opened the box and the tools saw the light of day again. The carpenter was going to hang a door, so the first thing to be pulled out was the Tape Measure to measure the height and width of the doorway, and then mark out the new door. Then the Tape Measure, grinning with self-satisfaction, was put back in the box, but the smile soon faded when the Saw was selected by the carpenter.

    Carefully the carpenter sawed the bottom of the door to ensure that it was the correct height and would not drag on the carpet, making it difficult to close. Back in the box, the Saw looked around for approval, but soon frowned when the Plane was picked up. ‘Let’s get rid of those rough edges,’ said the carpenter.

    Carefully the carpenter ran the Plane along the bottom of the door, until it was perfectly smooth. With a nod of approval the carpenter returned the Plane to the toolbox, and took out the Chisel.

    Now it was time to fit the hinges, and to do this the carpenter needed to cut out a piece of wood to the exact size and depth of each of the hinges. Very carefully and gently the carpenter tapped the top of the Chisel handle with the Hammer to drive the Chisel through the wood.

    Of course, the carpenter then needed the Screwdriver in order to drive the screws into the hinges which were fitted on the edge of the door, and then to fix the hinges to the doorframe.

    When the door was finally hung and checked to see that everything fitted correctly, the carpenter closed up the toolbox and went for a cup of tea before fitting the lock and handle.

    For a long while the tools were silent. They had all learned something that morning. The Hammer was the first to speak. There was a broad grin on the Hammer’s face.

    Hammer  I guess we make a pretty good team.
  2. Success often depends on interdependence, that is, on people working together and relying on each other – for example, builders, lifeboat crews, relay runners.

    In a successful school everyone works together as a team. We all have different talents and strengths and we should not be self-important or swollen with pride. (Pride goes before a fall!) 

Time for reflection

The tools are only useful in the hands of the carpenter – we can be useful if we are prepared to let God use our talents.

Father God,
thank you for the different talents we have;
may we use them wisely and not be swelled up with pride.
Help us to understand that we can achieve more when we work together
than when we work alone.
We thank you for all those in the past and present
who have placed their lives in your hands
and done great things.


’Tis the gift to be simple’ (Come and Praise, 97)

Publication date: November 2012   (Vol.14 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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